The pest control industry has seen big innovations in execution, monitoring and prevention of pests in the last decade. While there is still room for improvement, different commercial pest control services will seek new ways to improve current techniques and devise new methods to cope with pest infestations. However, pests in the kitchens, restaurants and food production will never be tolerated, which gives the companies a solid ground to step on.
There are many signs of pest infestation in kitchens and other food preparation areas - let’s explore together the world of different pests in the UK and what are the most popular ways of coping with them.
There are two different species of rats in the United Kingdom - the black (ship) rat or the brown (Norway) rat. Over the last century, the population of the ship rat diminished greatly in favour of the Norway rat. It eats almost one-tenth of their body weight each day and is omnivorous. However, if there are cereals, they will be the first ones to go down. Rats have high water intake requirements - in many cases, runs to a water source are observed, which can indicate whether your establishment has been infested with rats.
Apart from eating foodstuffs, they also damage them, alongside packages and containers, used for food storage. Rats also chew off electrical cables, wall materials, wall insulation, ledges, and corners, when making their way through or when nesting. Shockingly, rats can also gnaw on soft metals, such as lead or copper, as well as plastic. If your establishment has a garden, it can also be damaged by the rats, since they are known to gnaw on plants, too.
Rats carry various diseases, which can be transmitted to people and livestock, such as rat-bite fever, salmonellosis, leptospirosis and murine typhus and rat infestations are amongst the most common issues of the food industry. Some of the many reasons why you should exercise restaurant pest control without any sparing of resources.
The two most common types of mice that cause trouble here are the house mouse commonly met in urban areas, as well as the field mouse, which causes seasonal problems in colder months. Mice are more resistant to lack of water and can make living on food with around 15% of water content. The little rodents eat everything - if wheat has been attacked by mice, it will look like it was grounded. Whereas when rats eat it, it has appearance, like it was cut into pieces.
Mice love food storage and food preparation areas - kitchens are their favourite location. Other places where you can find mice are pipes, baths, sub-floor areas and cupboards
The grey squirrel is commonly accepted as a pest in the UK. However, it shouldn’t be mistaken for the red squirrel, which is preserved. If your restaurant is in a park or a forestry place, it might be in danger of grey squirrels. They find it very easy to access buildings while looking for food and place to hide. By doing so, they damage different products, packages, and constructions. There is even a law that proclaims the release of grey squirrels into the wild.
Problems, associated with rodents
Some of the main reasons you don’t want any rodents at your place are various diseases these animals spread, as well as food contamination, food package and property damage. They contaminate the food, intended for cooking, with urine, faeces and other biological waste. Considering why is pest control important in food safety, we may have to pay attention to the fact that rodents also spread various pathogens, such as bubonic plague, escherichia coli, listeria, salmonella, toxoplasmosis and many others.
Rodents’ front teeth never stop growing their entire life, which makes gnawing on food the only way they keep their size under control. However, food is not the only thing that falls victim under their sharp teeth - electrical wires and PVC plumbing, as well as wooden pillars, get damaged often.
Cockroaches have been around for over 200 million years, and during that time, many of them developed as pests. Originally thriving in tropical climates, pest type species now have spread to all parts of the world, through commerce, public transportation and shipments of goods. Depending on various factors, such as temperature, humidity, food quality and length of the day, the cockroaches can develop differently.
Cockroaches contaminate food easily by releasing biowastes, such as faeces, disgorged food, and their own foul smell. Apart from that, they pollute the air in the infected facility, too, which can contain parts of their excrements and exoskeletons. Those particles are allergens and can cause serious health problems. You will need to implement a full cleaning regime after the initial treatment, as the residual waste remains active for a short period.
There are thousands of different fly species around the world, and, even though only a handful interact with humans, they could be quite dangerous. Flies easily spread diseases by flying from dirt and faeces to our food. Flies can carry multiple organisms and bacteria on their legs, that cause diseases. This flying pest spreads easily, thanks to international travel throughout oceans and air and its ability to lay eggs in different organic and non-organic matter.
Some flies, like the Bluebottle fly, can lay eggs in human skin, the phenomenon is known as myiasis.
Even though ants fall into the category of nuisance pests, their presence around food still has a large impact on its health safety. Ants can transfer infections through microorganisms on their bodies, similar to flies. Any food that contains ants should be thrown out to prevent further contamination and spread of disease.
Stored Product Insects
Stored product insects (or SPI) use their preferred food source as a habitat for living, breeding, and hiding. Some of the most common goods attacked are nuts, dried fruits, cereals, pulses.
SPI divide into two categories, depending on the way they infest food:
- Primary SPI has the ability to eat through whole grains. Their life cycles can be completed both inside (Internal primary SPI), or outside the grain (External primary SPI);
- Secondary SPI - they are more likely to eat the fungus in a rotten product;
Particular species of SPI infest particular products:
- Legumes - bruchid beetles;
- Coffee and Cocoa beans - flour beetles, merchant grain beetles, warehouse moths;
- Cheese - mites, larder beetle, copra beetle;
- Dried fruit - Indian meal moth, merchant grain beetles, tobacco beetle, dried fruit beetle, mites;
- Dried vegetables - Indian meal moths;
- Flour and milled cereal - flour beetles, mill moth, Indian meal moth, cadelle, flat grain beetle, mites;
- Grain (wheat, rice, corn, cereals) - rice weevil, grain weevil, lesser grain borer, saw-toothed grain beetle, cadelle, flour beetle, Indian meal moth and mites;
- Pasta - rice and grain weevils, milled cereal pests;
- Nuts and confectionery - Indian meal moth, merchant grain beetle, mites;
- Animal materials - dermestid beetles, clothes moths, scavenging moths;
Albeit the fact that all wild birds, nests and habitat are considered protected under the European Wildlife and Countryside Act from 1981, some species which are considered pests can have that protection abolished. They are listed on the General Licences and that list is updated each year. Various control methods are applied to preserve the health and safety of the public. It is important to note, that before everything else, non-lethal methods of purging the pests must be applied. Birds could be a menace, mainly to anyone storing and working with unprocessed cereals.
The main pest birds are:
- The feral pigeon;
- The house sparrow;
- The large gull.
Food problems birds cause
- Food damage - bird droppings damage the quality of the goods and their packaging in warehouses;
- Raised maintenance costs - gutters and downpipes are very often blocked by droppings and bird nests. The water that overflows as a result of this, decays the building material, decorations, and its overall structure;
- Food contamination - pigeons excrements, gull regurgitated pellets, nesting materials, and feathers are a source of grain contamination;
- Disease spreading - sparrows, gulls, and pigeons often carry bacteria, that cause various diseases, such as salmonellosis and ornithosis.
There are two different food hygiene regulations under which the UK food business obey:
- Regulation (EC) 178/2002 of the EU parliament which lays down several principles and requirements of the food law. Article 14 tackles specifically the problems of unsafe food and goods that are unfit for human consumption are deemed unsafe.
- Regulation (EC) 852/2004 - which lays down general requirements for food businesses, concerning the food premises, the pest control procedures, and the hygiene of foodstuffs.
Either internal auditors or external independent organisations are required for the food business to carry out food safety audits on a regular basis. The report comprises of several criteria which strive to seek out the highest standard of food safety law compliance. The pest management technologies must answer to a hundred percent infestation clearance, as well as conform to the methods, required by law. However, the criteria needn’t be over-descriptive, as that will slow down the process.